Luffa, also known as loofa or loofah, is a type of gourd. Luffa gourds grow on vines with dark green foliage and yellow blossoms. When harvested at a young stage, the luffa is edible and used in many soups and stir-fried dishes.
Interestingly enough, luffa is also the same gourd that you use to clean your body or dishes with. The loofahs in your bathrooms and kitchens are the dried out fibrous remains of a matured luffa gourd. When left matured on the vines, luffa becomes very fibrous and no longer edible. The skin is peeled away and seeds are shaken out. The fibrous skeleton that remains get converted to a bath or kitchen sponge.
There are two species of the luffa gourd and I’ve seen both at a typical Asian market. The first variety is Luffa acutangular. This specie might be labeled as angled luffa, rigid luffa or simply Chinese okra at the market. They are long and thin gourds with deep ridges running the length of the vegetable.
The second variety is Luffa aegyptiaca which is more plump in profile with a smoother skin. There are no ridges here. It resembles and is often mistaken for a winter melon (Bi Dao).
Yet unlike the winter melon, the flesh of both luffa species is very spongey and both species are used interchangeably in many dishes.
One quick luffa recipe is a traditional Vietnamese soup, Canh Muop Thit Bam.
Canh Muop Thit Bam is a quick traditional Vietnamese soup made with ground pork and luffa gourd. It’s a soup I witnessed my parents made over and over again after a long day at work. It cooks up quickly. It satisfies the hunger and it goes wonderfully with steamed rice.
I like to make this soup side dish with caramelized pork spare ribs (Suon Kia / Suon Ram Man) for a complete Vietnamese family meal. Recipe below. Enjoy!
PRINTABLE RECIPE Quick View Totole Granulated Chicken Bouillon Powder (Soup Base Mix) 7.99 Quantity: Add To Cart Vietnamese Luffa Gourd Soup with Ground Pork (Canh Muop Thit Bam)
Ingredients 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 shallot (peel and mince) 2 garlic cloves (peel and mince) 8 oz ground pork 1-1/2 quarts water or stock 2 teaspoons fish sauce 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon chicken / vegetable bouillon stock powder 2 teaspoons granulated sugar 1 large luffa (about 2 lbs; peel and slice into small chunks) 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 green onions (slice thin) Instructions In a medium size pot, heat oil on medium high. Add shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 15 seconds). Add ground pork and saute to combine with aromatics. Add water/stock and bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to low simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Occasionally skim off the foam at the top as needed. Season stock with fish sauce, sea salt, stock powder and sugar. Add sliced luffa gourd. Cook for 5-7 miunutes or until gourds are tender. Garnish with black pepper and green onions.